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CBR and CBZ are container formats for Comic books, Manga, and other graphic intense books.


[edit] Overview

Comic books and other books with a high graphic content can be problematic to read on traditional eBook readers. Generally the best method of displaying these kinds of books is to scan them in or photograph them and then display the resultant graphic image. What is needed is a way to collect the graphic images into a book and then be able to leaf through them like you would a traditional book. Generally you might want to see a whole page yet be able to zoom in to read the text or study details. Of the available traditional eBook formats only the PDF format has the capability to handle such a large number of images easily but PDF readers are not really designed to maximize the enjoyment in reading such a book. Of course it is also possible to use other formats so long at they support images but they do not usually have any special image viewing features.

To address this need there are two formats that have been defined, cbz and cbr. Comic Book Z is a ZIP compressed file containing the collection of images while Comic Book R is a RAR compressed file. Most readers in this group can handle either format but there are exceptions. The internal files are in a standard graphic format, usually Jpeg, PNG, GIF, TIFF or more recently WebP. Not all readers support all graphic formats. CBR or CBZ files are easily created from images which are displayed in alphabetical order.

Manga books (a term originating from Japan) are similar to Comic Books in the USA but are typically black and white images and lower resolution using text bubbles with larger characters. They lend themselves easily to standard eBook readers.

USA Comic books generally are in color and have very small print. USA comic books typically need a zoom mode to be read on smaller screens. They also require good gray scale capability or color.

Comic Strips are another candidate for Comic archives. These generally work well on eBook readers. And of course, this format is excellent container for regular pictures and graphics as well. It can be used to make a manually changed slide show to view a "coffee table books" or even photographs of your vacation.

[edit] Devices and Software

[edit] Readers

Since CBR and CBZ are really RAR and ZIP files respectively some readers can look at the contents if the extension is renamed. But to be a true reader the program must treat the pages as a book and remember where it was in the reading of the book if the person stops reading.

  • ACBF Viewer is a reader application for Linux, Windows and Android. It supports rich comic metadata (using Advanced Comic Book Format), panel by panel viewing and switching between translation text layers. CBZ only
  • Tachiyomi supports the reading of local CBZ files, in multiple formats such as manga, comics, webtoons. It also allows you to read and download content and automatically stores it in a CBZ file.
  • The current Kobo devices can read CBR and CBZ files. This include the Aura line and the Glo products as well as the mini.
  • PocketBook eBook Readers can also read these formats.
  • Onyx makes the BOOX line of eBook readers. Many of the current readers can read this format.
  • Pocket PC Comic Book Reader -, This reader can read only CBZ files. Compact Framework 2.0 is required.
  • ComiX Reader - This reader is for PalmOS Version 5 and can read cbz and cbr files.
  • Comical is a comic book reader for Linux, MacOS X and Windows. Source code is available.
  • Coview. Comic book reader for Windows where the comic is the most important, not the viewer.
  • CDisplay calls itself a sequential image viewing utility for Windows. It can read Jpeg, PNG, and GIF images in zip, rar, ace, cbr, cbz or tar archives.
  • Droid Comic Viewer is a comic and manga reader for Android that supports CBZ, CBR and ACV.
  • Open Comic Reader an open source comic reader for Android reads RAR, ZIP, CBR, CBZ as well as image folders. Available on Google play too.
  • 6Reader featuresTCL/TK, Perl and reads CBR and CBZ formats. It will run where TCL/TK and Perl is supported.
  • Evince has an optional package that adds Comic book support.
  • ComicZeal is a comic book reader for the iPhone. Their desktop application, ComicZeal Creator, converts CBZ/CBR files to its scaled down CBI format.
  • Chunky Comic Reader is a comic book reader for the iPad. It provides a functional, flexible library view with search and automatic and manual grouping of comics. There are many ways to get comics into the app. The reading experience is clean and provides for right-to-left reading and easy sharing of clips from a page. Will read and use both ComibBookLover and ComicRack tag data.
  • STDU Viewer is a comic book reader for Windows, that supports CBR and CBZ.
  • QComicBook is a Linux reader that uses the Qt library. Binaries are available for several Linux systems or build from source.
  • Reader is a multi-format ebook reader for the Nexctcloud and Owncloud personal cloud servers. Reader supports CBR and CBZ as well as EPUB.
  • Simple Comic is a comic book reader in MacOS X. It supports .cbr, .cbz, .zip, .rar, tar, 7z, lha and others, includes a great QuickLook plugin.
  • Sequential Sequential is an image viewer for MacOS X. It can open a folder or archive (ZIP, RAR, CBZ and CBR) of images and display them in order. It is able to load images on the internet from a page or image URL.

[edit] Creation programs

Some of these programs may also be used as readers.

  • ACBF Editor is application for Linux and Windows capable of adding comic book metadata (using Advanced Comic Book Format), panels/frames definitions (for panel by panel viewing), text-layers (for translations) and table of contents into comic book archives (CBZ)
  • GonVisor Viewer can read cbr and cbz files and can be used to create them. It is a free windows application and supports both English and Spanish versions. Passwords are supported for locked files.
  • Comics2Reader is a free program to create CBZ eBooks (can also create PDF) or EPUB eBooks from a set of images. It can also correct the image , remove white border around it , convert it in BW .
  • ComicRack a management and converter program that can also read documents.
  • MangAI - create or edit CBR or CBZ which are optimized for eBook Readers.

[edit] Utilities

  • JE-Comics is a Java converter that will make PDF files from graphic images and CBZ files.
  • Alan Horkan blog - An entry for a windows script that can batch convert CBR files to CBZ.
  • ComicTagger is a cross-platform GUI/CLI app for writing metadata to comic archives.

[edit] Images

One of the more important ways to improve the CBR / CBZ experience is to edit the graphics used to create the book itself. See editing graphics for more information and tips.

[edit] Metadata

Normally a CBR or CBZ file does not have metadata. There are no text files and the images are viewed in alphabetical order. While there is no standard for metadata there are several methods to store comic book metadata in comic book archives.

[edit] ComicRack

ComicRack can add metadata via a ComicInfo.xml file. This file is added directly by ComicRack by entering the data in the Info dialog box. The ComicRack article shows an example.

[edit] ComicBookInfo

Another format is the ComicBookInfo metadata, which is stored directly in the ZIP file header as comment. The data is apparently stringified JSON data. Calibre can read this format. Here is an example for the format: https://code.google.com/p/comicbookinfo/wiki/Example

[edit] Zip Comment

As mentioned above the Zip file also supports the ability to add a comment. The Info-Zip command ZipNote can read and write this field in the zip file. It is an uncompressed section of the file so that unzipping is not necessary. There is no prescribed use for this entry but some are beginning to use it for metadata for the contained item, such as a CBZ content.

[edit] Advanced Comic Book Format

Advanced Comic Book Format besides comic book metadata (authors, genres, publisher, publish date, annotation ...) supports also definition of frames/panels (for panel by panel viewing), text-layers for translations, storing of table of contents and more. ACBF document (*.acbf) can be embedded into comic book archive (CBZ) or exist as a individual *.acbf file with binary data included. See the article on ACBF for more on this, including an example.

ACBF Viewer, ACBF Editor (both for Linux and Windows) and ACBF Viewer for Android can work with this format.

[edit] For more information

  • Wiki pages that reference this page shows readers that support these formats and other wiki pages with similar information.
  • Calibre can work with this format. It supports CBC to assemble and collect multiple comic books into one file. There are also plugins to add metadata.
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